can you say 'water down' into cafe latte?

brandonkim

Senior Member
Korean-Korea
hi,

In the coffee shop, when you order 'cafe latte', let's say you want to have your coffee more deluted with more milk.
Then, can you say? "please pour more milk and water it down "

can you say 'water down' not only in the case of using water itself, but also in the case of using other liquid such as milk, etc?

Thanks.
 
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  • Mahantongo

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Neither is correct. You water something down by adding water to it. Adding milk to coffee makes it milky, but does not "water it down". In the same way, you do not "dilute" a latte by adding milk, which is by definition a necessary ingredient in a latte.
     

    brandonkim

    Senior Member
    Korean-Korea
    Neither is correct. You water something down by adding water to it. Adding milk to coffee makes it milky, but does not "water it down". In the same way, you do not "dilute" a latte by adding milk, which is by definition a necessary ingredient in a latte.
    Thanks for your comments,

    Then, I cannot use either 'water it down' or ' delute' in ordering latte, can I?
    You mean both expressions were only used in case of using water,right?

    Then, which expression can I use here, can I say like that? " please add more milk in it so that it could be milky"
    If this is not proper, how would you say to ask your needs to waiter to make your coffee milky, please?

    Too many questions, but thanks in advance :)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    This question is "How do you say something in English which is impossible?" A latte is made from an espresso coffee and steamed milk. It's served in a cup, full to the brim. The only ways of diluting it are to throw away some of the espresso before adding the milk or to ask for it to be served in a bigger cup. To ask for a weak latte you need to ask the person making it to make a weak one, not to dilute it. "Please can you make that a weak one?"

    (Alternatively you can ask for a "decaff skinny latte" - that's coffee with no caffeine and milk with no fat, so you could just drink hot water and save yourself £2.50 ;))
     
    I'm not convinced that would work, Andy. "Please can you make that [latte] a weak one?"

    I think the barista might make the latte in a bigger cup and add some water. To me, 'weak coffee' means there is extra water.

    I will try to test this, however. :) I suspect I will get puzzlement. And likely a question. "Do you mean 'less coffee', 'more water', or 'more milk'?
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think the barista might make the latte in a bigger cup and add some water.
    But it wouldn't be a latte if he did that.
    To me, 'weak coffee' means there is extra water.
    I think that many Europeans take the view that American coffee is made with less coffee, not more water. That was certainly the view expressed during NATO Flight Surgeons' conferences at Ramstein AFB in the early 1990s. :D
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    This question is "How do you say something in English which is impossible?"
    [...]
    The only ways of diluting it are to throw away some of the espresso before adding the milk or to ask for it to be served in a bigger cup.
    So there are two solutions ... so it's not impossible.;) There's a third possible solution: put slightly less espresso in the cup before adding the milk.

    Any barista worth his or her salt should be able to cope with brandonkim's request, preferably with a bigger cup (it's still a latte, whether filled to the brim or not) – or, if one's not available, by either of the other two methods.

    As for how to ask for it, I'd suggest "a latte with extra milk in it" or, to be even more explicit, "a latte with more milk than usual". It's much the same as ordering a shandy with different beer/lemonade proportions from the normal 50/50 – or a gin and tonic with plenty of tonic – and no barperson would have a problem with those requests.

    Ws
     

    Mahantongo

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    My point remains that since a latte requires milk in order to BE a latte, putting steamed milk into a latte is not "diluting" the latte; one might just as well speak of "diluting" the latte by adding more coffee. One may change the proportions of something that is a combination of ingredients, but that is not "dilution". For example, if one added more gin to a classic martini, who would call that "diluting" the cocktail with gin????
     
    Interesting point, but not wholly convincing. The argument would apply to lemonade:

    [Mahan, re-written:] since a lemonade requires water in order to BE a lemonade, putting cold water into a lemonade is not "diluting" the lemonade; one might just as well speak of "diluting" the lemonade by adding more lemon juice.

    So the fallacy is apparent. Yes, the first and normal addition of milk for latte or water for lemonade is not dilution, but constitution. BUT adding additional milk/water DOES effect dilution. Further, it's simply non-standard to call the addition of an essential, defining ingredient (coffee in a cup of coffee; lemon juice in lemonade), 'dilution.'




    My point remains that since a latte requires milk in order to BE a latte, putting steamed milk into a latte is not "diluting" the latte; one might just as well speak of "diluting" the latte by adding more coffee. One may change the proportions of something that is a combination of ingredients, but that is not "dilution". For example, if one added more gin to a classic martini, who would call that "diluting" the cocktail with gin????
     

    Aserolf

    Senior Member
    Español - México
    I'd suggest "a latte with extra milk in it" or, to be even more explicit, "a latte with more milk than usual".
    Yes, I agree with Wordsmyth. I often go to this Coffee Shop and always ask for a Mocha Latte with an extra shot (of coffee).
    Since they know me now, they ask me: The usual? ;)
     

    Mahantongo

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Further, it's simply non-standard to call the addition of an essential, defining ingredient (coffee in a cup of coffee; lemon juice in lemonade), 'dilution.'
    I draw your attention to the fact that we are not speaking of a cup of coffee, but a "cafe latte." The very word "latte" means "milk", and so clearly and indisputably, milk is an essential and defining ingredient of a latte. Since you agree that it is non-standard to call the addition of an essential, defining ingredient "dilution", while you can dilute a latte with water, or orange juice, or vinegar, you cannot call the addition of milk to a latte "dilution".
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    throw away some of the espresso
    put slightly less espresso in the cup before adding the milk.
    Is there a difference? Given the way an espresso machine works, it's a standard dose of ground coffee. The only way of weakening a latte served in a standard cup is to throw away some of the espresso that has just been made before the milk is added.
    always ask for a Mocha Latte with an extra shot
    What does that have to do with ordering a weakened latte?
    you cannot call the addition of milk to a latte "dilution".
    :thumbsup:
    Perhaps you should just ask for a cup of hot milk.
    :thumbsup::thumbsup: :D
     

    Aserolf

    Senior Member
    Español - México
    What does that have to do with ordering a weakened latte?
    Wow! Didn't you read my entire post?
    I never said this is the proper way to order a "weakened latte."

    Guess it's been a long time since I got into these forums that the atmosphere has changed quite a bit :(
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    Wow! Didn't you read my entire post?
    Of course I did, but what has putting a second shot of espresso into a latte got to do with making a weakened latte? A latte is a cup filled by pouring hot milk onto an espresso. You can't make a weakened latte by putting anything extra into a full cup.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Is there a difference? Given the way an espresso machine works, it's a standard dose of ground coffee. The only way of weakening a latte served in a standard cup is to throw away some of the espresso that has just been made before the milk is added.
    Is there a difference? Not to the end result, no. But it might just be a little more accurate, and perhaps less messy, to stop the inflow to the cup short of a full measure, rather than filling it and then pouring some out.

    The way my espresso machine works (a 'proper' one, not a capsule thingy), you put ground coffee into the holder, attach it, then press a button. The coffee slowly pours into the cup(s). If you stop the flow before the cup is full, you get less in the cup (or you could just pull the cup away before it's full). You then have a smaller volume of coffee, but of the same strength (proportion of coffee to water) as you would get in a normal measure. If you then filled the cup with steamed milk, you'd have what brandonkim wanted — and you wouldn't have thrown anything out of the cup.

    But I'm not writing an espresso-making guide;). I just wanted to point out that the OP's question wasn't "How do you say something in English which is impossible?" (your #5, Andy). Whether by putting less in, throwing some out, or using a bigger cup, it is possible.

    As I read Aserolf's #12, I think it was relevant to brandonkim's question about asking for an 'off the norm' latte. Being technically able to do something is one question; it being reasonable to ask for it (and how to do that) is another. There we have a real example of asking for a latte with extra coffee (presumably in a larger cup). That suggests to me that the OP could walk into Aserolf's coffee shop and reasonably ask for a latte with extra milk: I imagine they'd use that same larger cup.

    (PS: @Aserolf : I don't think the atmosphere in WRF has really changed. I remember there being some enjoyably 'lively' debates back when we both joined.:))

    Ws

    [Edit: Strike-through in para 2: I accept Andy's point in post #23]
     
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    Aserolf

    Senior Member
    Español - México
    As I read Aserolf's #12, I think it was relevant to brandonkim's question about asking for an 'off the norm' latte. Being technically able to do something is one question; it being reasonable to ask for it (and how to do that) is another. There we have a real example of asking for a latte with extra coffee (presumably in a larger cup). That suggests to me that the OP could walk into Aserolf's coffee shop and reasonably ask for a latte with extra milk: I imagine they'd use that same larger cup.

    (PS: @Aserolf : I don't think the atmosphere in WRF has really changed. I remember there being some enjoyably 'lively' debates back when we both joined.:))
    Ws
    Yes, thank you Wordsmyth! They actually put less milk or whatever else they put in my usual medium size cup, then add the extra shot of coffee. I suppose they could do the opposite to make a less strong latte.
    And yes, I remember some of those animated debates! :)
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    As for the practical question:

    As Aserolf points out, it's possible to give the person who waits on you special instructions. You can say that you want a latte made with more milk and less coffee than usual. They would understand that, and if they need more information than can ask.
    (They may want to know whether you want only a little less coffee or half as much coffee or something else.)

    There is no need to worry about whether or not this is a 'true' latte.
    In a coffee shop they want to please their customers.​

    As for the language question:

    We only water things down with water. Otherwise, it is possible to dilute something with another liquid. That will usually mean to weaken it, so you can dilute lemonade with water, as in bennymix's sentence above. Adding more lemon juice would not be regarded as 'diluting it'.
     
    Report: I asked two baristas. They said that the result of more proportion of milk
    could be achieved two ways: Asking for the latte with one shot only of coffee, instead of two. OR
    Asking for a triple in a bigger cup, but with only two shots instead of three, followed by the milk.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    I just wanted to point out that the OP's question wasn't "How do you say something in English which is impossible?" (your #5, Andy). Whether by putting less in, throwing some out, or using a bigger cup, it is possible.
    Ah, but I mistakenly used "diluting", when I meant "weakening". As Mahantongo rightly pointed out, and as I accepted in post #15, you can't dilute a latte with milk.

    You then have a smaller volume of coffee, but of the same strength (proportion of coffee to water) as you would get in a normal measure.
    Although this isn't a technical forum for the behaviour of ground coffee in a stream of hot water, that isn't actually true. You are describing a "ristretto". The strength and flavour of the coffee stream reduces over time. The part you don't get is considerably weaker than the part you do get. That's the whole point of a ristretto - virtually all of the caffeine, but with the late stream flavours removed. As they say about ristretto at Caffè Nero
    A shorter extraction of our distinctively rich secret blend, made with less water for a shorter, stronger and more intense espresso.
    If you make that into a latte it's not significantly weaker than a normal latte.
    Asking for a triple in a bigger cup
    Indeed, but that depends on going to a coffee shop that has cups for triples. That may be normal where you are, but it isn't on the High Streets here (Starbucks, Costa, Caffè Nero). The options are a single-shot or double-shot latte in a one-size cup.

    If a one-shot latte is too strong for brandonkim, and he's on holiday in the UK, he'll just have to ask the server to throw away some of the espresso.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    The strength and flavour of the coffee stream reduces over time.
    Agreed. I knew I was sticking my neck out by trying to oversimplify.
    So I'll retract my comment about 'same strength'. That said, the second half of an espresso isn't pure water. It's weaker than the first half, with a different balance of flavours, but it still contains coffee. (And what I know as a ristretto isn't just a short extraction of espresso with half the amount of water: it's also made with more finely ground coffee.)

    But I think we're interpreting brandonkim's question differently. You seem to be talking about the total dose of ground coffee, independently of the amount of added water or milk. On that basis, I agree that an espresso, or an espresso with 10 cl of milk, or an espresso with a litre of added milk are all equally 'strong'. However I was assuming that brandonkim wasn't trying to reduce the basic dose of ground coffee, but to add more milk to it ...
    please add more milk in it so that it could be milky"
    In that case, for a given cup size, a latte made with a short extraction of coffee topped to the brim with milk would be milkier than a standard espresso topped to the brim with milk.

    but it isn't on the High Streets here (Starbucks, Costa, Caffè Nero)
    I've never been to a UK Starbucks or a Caffè Nero (and only once to a Costa: not impressed!), so you're much better placed to advise BK on coffee ordering in the UK. But if he ever comes around my way, he'll find plenty of cafés where he could ask for "extra milk" or "more milk than normal", and they'd find an appropriately sized cup to give him what he wants; there are at least five different cup sizes for coffee in its various forms.

    Ws
    [Edit: Reworded last sentence]
     
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    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Neither is correct. You water something down by adding water to it. Adding milk to coffee makes it milky, but does not "water it down". In the same way, you do not "dilute" a latte by adding milk, which is by definition a necessary ingredient in a latte.
    (I haven't studied the rest of the responses in detail - I started but things seemed to wander:()
    If you make a "normal" latte with X mL coffee and Y mL milk, you can dilute the strength of the coffee by adding more milk. Thus, adding 2Y mL milk to X mL coffee gives a "weaker" latte.
    How the barista accomplishes this : by using less coffee and "normal" amount of milk, or by using the "normal" amount of coffee and more milk, and consequent cup size change and extra milk upcharge, will probably be the subject of long financial negotiations and process specifications:D No extra water is involved:eek:
     
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